Friday, April 30, 2010

April 30 – “Chatty?”

OK.  So I was accused last night of being overly chatty in my blog posts.  As I contemplated a response, it looked as if I had to choose between waxing philosophical concerning the ordinary-looking happenstances of day to day living in on a small barrier reef near the coast of Texas or blurting out whatever comes to my mind whenever I get a chance to beat on the keys of my laptop.  I suppose the first option might have a better chance of resulting in publication opportunities for my heirs after I am dead.  The second seems to be providing me an outlet that allows me to hold onto the meager tidbit of sanity remaining in my feeble little mind.  I guess I'll have to put it to a vote.


Meanwhile, I did have a doctor's appointment this morning.  It was the rheumatologist.  The guy who was supposed to step in with the miracle cure for rheumatoid arthritis in old guys who think they should still be able to play softball and stand on their head at least once a year.  He walked into the room looking a bit frazzled.  There were no residents on hand, but they were still behind in their schedule.  He obviously wasn't happy about it.  He did manage a grin when he shook hands and asked, "So how are you feeling?"  My answer?  Something along the lines of, "This last six weeks has included some of the worst days I have had in a long time."  He replied from behind a sheepish-looking grin, "So then I guess the medicine we tried last time didn't rush in like a miracle cure and solve all your problems?"  After that he just sat there, looking at me for what seemed like several minutes.  I know it was only a few seconds, because this guy can't help but talk to fill empty air space.  But it sure felt like a long time to me.  Scenarios were racing around my head.  What if he's trying to figure out a way to say, "Sorry.  We're done."?  What if this means it's going to get worse and worse?  What if …? 


He did his usual exam, and finally said, "I have good news and bad news.  The good news is we have some wiggle room in the medications we can use.  The bad news is we have some wiggle room in the medications we can use."  That could only mean I had to take more of the yellow pills, or maybe go back to the steroids.  Was I ever right on that call.  He increased the number of yellow pills to six a day.  And he started me back on the low dose of predizone.  And I have to come back in six weeks.  If I'm better, we still won't know exactly why.  It could be one or the other of the medications or maybe the combination.  Honestly, I don't care exactly why.  If it works, it works.  Let's get to the pharmacy. 


Chris and I did enjoy our regular (well, our second), every-six-weeks date on the way home.  We went to Olive Garden.  I guess twice makes that "our special place." 


Hebrews 12:1 says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."


Father, show me some more of the questions so I can get excited when I realize I have found an answer.  Amen.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

April 29 – “Surgery”


Today was Jachin's surgery.  He has had trouble with ear infections and even ruptured eardrums pretty much his entire life.  They have had tubes in his ears before, and they helped, but they fell out awhile back, and the infections returned.  So today was the day he would get some more tubes as well as have his adenoids taken out. 


We still has Cailyn from last night, so I went on to the hospital, and Chris came up later.  As I got there I received a text from Christina that they had moved the surgery back an hour.  They didn't say why, but then they really don't have to, I guess.  We assumed it was because of some emergency that had come up.  Always make you feel better to assume that when it comes to medical stuff.  After all, you'd want to get bumped to the front if you had an emergency.  Plus, it sounds better than stuck in traffic or overslept. 


Jachin and I had time for a few games of baseball.  One on his Gameboy and one board game with dice and such.  He trounced me soundly both ways.  They finally came for him, and he rode away in the wheelchair.  Only his Mom was allowed to go back with him, and that was just to keep him calm while they gave him the Happy Sleep Juice.  He told us later that they let him hold the gas mask over his face when it came time.  They told to make sure he held it on tight, though, or else everybody in the room would fall asleep.  That would have made our time in the waiting room a lot longer than expected.


Chris arrived after we had moved into the surgery waiting area.  We were entertained by a little guy who was flirting with the volunteer.  We read books.  We talked.  We watched TV.  We did crossword puzzles.  We took a nap.  OK, I took a nap.  And finally they called us back to walk with Jachin back to his room. 


He came out of the surgery doors in a wheelchair again, but this time he could barely hold his head up or keep his eyes open.  He made from the chair back into his bed, though, and our waiting began again.  Chris and I made a trip to the cafeteria.  They had a Subway franchise there, so we got a sandwich for Kel and Christina.  No root beer there, though.  Only Coke products.  I had ice tea.  It took the full two hours for him to come around enough to walk by himself to the bathroom.  He was quite the little trooper, though.  Every time the nurse asked how he was doing, he responded with a thumbs up.  Christina asked him once if his throat hurt or if he was just being shy.  He responded immediately, "Shy." 


We got him back into their car and went for ours.  I headed off to make a Sam's run to pick up some things for the church.  Chris was headed home to clean house a bit before home group arrived.  And then my phone rang.  It was Chris.   "Jachin's throwing up,"  was her news.  They had pulled over, so she was heading to meet them.  I was right behind her when she saw their car, and my only comment was, "No wonder he's throwing up.  They're stopped in a Chinese Food restaurant parking lot."  But no one was with me, so no one heard me. 


Matthew 28:20 says, "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."


Father, I know you are with me.  I know you hear me.  Even when no one else is around.  And I'm glad.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 28 – “The Easiest Project”


I just accidentally deleted the entire blog entry for today.  And it's already 11:30.  Do I continue on tonight and do it over again?  Start in the morning?  Oh, well, Chris and Cailyn and Mom are all already asleep, so here goes.  I'm sure it won't be near as good as it was the first time.


Chris has set aside several projects for me to do.  She knows I like to work with wood when my finger and wrist joints don't hurt too much, so right now there are at least five things waiting.  There is one little table that she wants sanded down and painted and a big piece of tile set on top.  She also has all the pieces of our old coffee table that used to have a mirror top.  The mirror is gone, a victim of Ike, but she wants to put the puzzle back together and then create a mosaic tile top from salvaged pieces of tile.  We also have the legs to an old shelf of our, just waiting to be reincarnated into a brand new something.  She even has the top part of the trim from one of our pre-Ike windows.  I'm not sure what she has in mind for that one.


Since she was going to be gone for three days, I really wanted to get to work on the list.  So, of course, I chose the easiest project.  Chris has an old doll bed that she played with when she was a kid.  It needed a bottom so Cailyn could use it to play with her doll.  Actually, the times we have had it out when Cailyn was around, she tried to climb in herself.  It definitely was not strong enough to hold her, though.  So all I needed to do was cut a piece of thin wood for a bottom.


I backed the truck into the driveway, dropped the tailgate, pulled out my Black and Decker Workmate, and draped a hunk of wood from one to the other.  Instant workbench.  I got out my trusty circular saw, my first power tool purchase after Ike.  We used it to cut out our wood floors, but I would rather not remember that right now.  It didn't take but few short minutes to cut the wood and even sand it.  That was easy. Done.


Except I noticed that the screws and hardware pieces were rusted really bad.  I could fix those.  So I unscrewed one side and took it to Village Hardware, our little store around the corner that I can remember my Dad going to all the time.  Sure enough, they had some shelf brackets and small screws that would do the trick.  Not an exact fit, but pretty close.  Old stuff off, new stuff in.  Done.


Except that the bigger parts of the bed were held together by old-school wood dowels, and the glue was no longer holding.  So I decided to grab some wood glue for the cabinet and take care of that.  As I gently pulled the pieces apart to insert the glue, one of the dowels broke in half.  That meant a trip to WalMart for a new dowel rod.  I had to take Mom to a friend's house, so we stopped in and picked up what I needed.  After I dropped Mom off, I checked the size and realized that it was too big.  So I headed back to WalMart and got the right size.  Interesting pricing situation.  The first one cost $.57.  The smaller one cost $.95.  Supply and demand? 


Before I could insert the new dowel I had to drill out the broken one.  I didn't have a 3/8 inch drill bit, so I had to drill again and again to get it to fit.  The I had to cut the dowel rod itself to the right size.  Then glue all the holes.  Finally, it all went together.  Nothing left but the drying.  Done.


When Chris got home she was pleased with the repair job.  Done.


Except we decided to put it back in the storeroom until Cailyn either gets old enough to know how to use it properly, or gets big enough that she can't fit in it.  Now … done.


John 19:28-30 says, "Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty."  29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips.   30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."


Father, your "Done" is a lot more powerful than mine.  You only needed to say it once.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April 27 – “Evil jalapenos”


Our neighbors behind us put up a privacy fence.  They are planning to put their house on the market, and their realtor suggested it.  Hide the neighbor's trashy yards.  Guaranteed to help sell the house.  Chris was kind of excited.  She said it would give her a blank canvas to work with as we do landscaping back there.


Cailyn came over yesterday.  That meant a morning chockfull of toys and crayons and hugs and walks and swings and dogs and meows that sound more like beows.  We were finally getting down to some serious peanut butter and jelly sandwich action when Mommy got back. 


We had leftovers for lunch.  Quite an array of options.  April had spaghetti.  Mom had barbeque brisket.  I had a sausage sandwich.  Mine was a mistake.  The first bite I took had some evil jalapenos in it.  Jalepenos and my stomach have never been on close terms.


It took awhile to hit, but sometime yesterday afternoon I started feeling queasy.  Then it advanced to an inescapable need to rid my digestive system of the offending matter.  Better known by its Latin name: Vomitus spewgutsus hurlus.  That meant the rest of my evening was spoken for.  Sure enough, once the vomiting stopped, my irritable bowel syndrome kicked in.  I was set for another few hours until my entire system cleaned itself out. 


I slept fitfully throughout the night.  I do remember eating some ice and then drinking the water that was left after the rest of it melted.  Today was better.  I was exhausted.  And weak.  But I kept down some tea, and then some toast.  Nathan came by around lunchtime with some chicken soup, and that warmed me up. 


And then things got interesting.  Seems the other reason Nathan came by was to get a key to Kel and Christina's house.  They were in Houston getting her checked out to see if today would be baby day.  Nathan and April had Jachin and Micah duty, so they had to pick them up from school.  But, I was not to let Chris know anything.  They didn't want to give her any more to worry about.  See, Chris was in Bay City.  Well, technically she was in Houston, too.  Today was her Dad's cataract surgery.  Tomorrow he has to go back to get the patch removed.  And Chris has to drive them.  Later, Kel called and said they were told to leave the office and go walk around somewhere and eat some lunch, then come back in a few hours to see if anything has progressed.  At least he said he was planning to call Chris.  Not long after that I got a text from Chris saying they were at first afraid her Dad had a stroke during surgery because he had some facial drooping, but it turned out to be just effects of the anesthesia.  And she added, "I'm waiting on a call from Kel."  The plot thickens.


Hebrews 4:14-16 says, "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."


Father, thank you for understanding my weaknesses.  Amen.

Monday, April 26, 2010

April 26 – “The laptop battery”


Not all that long after we got our laptop we found out that one of the biggest problems they have is that the battery doesn't keep its charge.  I wasn't sure if that was just a Lenovo problem or if they are all like that.  Ours lasted pretty well for about a year before it started going downhill.  As it turned out, it gave us enough time to get back into our house after the flood and get the desktop docking station set up.  Now I use it on the dock most of the time, so the battery life wasn't really an issue.  I got a bit lazier, though, and when baseball season hit, I wanted to be able to watch the Astros while I worked on the sermon or the journal or checked email.  That's when I noticed that the battery was discharging faster and faster.  I could take it off the dock at 97% (It seems to stay at 97%, but it will occasionally read 100%), and by the time I typed for about 20 minutes, it was down to warning me about its imminent demise. 


I emailed Josh and asked him if his buddy who helped us get the laptop in the first place could tell me where to get a new battery.  He sent me the info and I promptly lost it, so I made do with what I had for another six months or so. 


A few weeks ago I cycled back around to thinking about the battery again, so I asked Josh to send me the info again.  This time I went ahead and ordered a new battery.  But I went the cheaper route and got the off brand.  Living dangerously.


It came in last week.  I installed it and followed the instructions for charging it to the letter.  Taking no chances.  It bumped up to 100% and looked to be working like a charm.  Then, after about a week, for some inexplicable reason, it began to very slowly discharge.  Not much at a time.  It took almost a week for it to get down to 85%.  I was puzzled, because it had been hooked up to the desk port the whole time.  Was the battery bad?  Was I going to have to send it back, or worse, go into Houston and exchange it?  I emailed Josh to see if he or his buddy had any clues.


Finally I decided to try shutting everything down and taking it off the base and rebooting it.  Wise decision, if I do say so myself.  For only then did I discover that the desk port itself … also has an on/off switch.  And somehow it had been switched off.  Oops.  I turned it back on, hooked up the laptop, and watched as it immediately started climbing back up to its usual 97%.  Almost a week on battery power alone and it had only dropped to 85%.  Hey, that's a good battery.  I had to email Josh and say, "Never mind." 


Hebrews 4:13 says, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."


Father, forgive me when I think I have to "inform" you.  Amen.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

April 25 – “In the shower”


We had the kind of day I like to have on Sundays.  I worked all week on how to present the story of Amnon raping his sister.  Hard to think in terms of comedy with that subject matter.  Nothing funny about it.  I went with the verse by verse approach.  During our encouragement time, when everyone is walking around shaking hands and exchanging hugs, a young guy about ten years old tapped me on the shoulder.  Keith said, "I was thinking about being baptized today."  I responded, "Oh, you were?  Today, huh?"  He stayed totally serious, "Yes, sir."  So I asked him if he had prayed and asked Jesus to take control of his life.  He answered immediately, "Oh, yes.  I prayed last night in the shower."  Well, it counts in the shower just as well as in a church building, so I got excited.  I hugged him and told him I was proud of him.  Then I asked, "Do you have your clothes with you to change into?"  See, I keep an extra bathing suit, t-shirt and towel in my office in case this sort of thing happens.  It's nice not to have to worry about filling up a tank of water and hoping it gets heated up in time.  We just head down to the beach.  He answered, "No, but I still want to get baptized."  I asked if he would rather tell everyone about it today and do the baptism next week.  He got a very forlorn look on his face, and replied, "No.  I think I would rather do it today."  Well, OK.  I asked if he had told his Mom and Dad.  "Not yet."  I knew his Mom and Dad, and I knew they would be fine with it, and they were both there today, so I told him to make sure to let them know, and we would definitely do it today.


The sermon went fine.  But it was not near as good as the baptism.  Plenty of folks stuck around and joined us at the beach.  His parents were proud.  So were we all.


Now the walk to the beach was interesting.  There was an ironman triathalon going on today, and the church is on the bicycle route.  They started at Moody Gardens and rode into Freeport somewhere and turned around and came back.  As a result our little intersection in Jamaica Beach was patrolled by several officers handling traffic duties.  And they were taking their job seriously.  They made sure those bicyclers were safe from us pedestrians.  When he let us cross the street he told us to hurry.  Then, when the last stragglers were crossing, a bicycle appeared around 200 yards away.  And he went ballistic, "Hurry up!  Run!  Run!"  And that's what he said to the pregnant lady.  He wasn't quite as vocal on the trip back.  But he sure gave everyone something to talk about.


Hebrews 3:12-13 says, "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."


Father, thanks for saving Keith.  Help him grow.  Amen.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

April 24 – “That was weird”


That was weird.  The wedding rehearsal I had scheduled for last night was canceled due to rain in Texas City.  It was going to be in the bride's front yard, because they didn't want to rent the venue for an extra day.  That wasn't the weird part, though.  It was that I felt totally lost for about an hour and a half.  I went on Facebook.  I checked email.  I listened to the insane music coming from the TV.  Mom had on the Galveston City Channel.  That's the one where the only thing that ever shows is the city council meeting.  The rest of the day they run cheaply done commercials across the screen and play elevator music.  But I couldn't get motivated to do anything.  It was like I was paralyzed.  And then the Astros game started.  And all was well with my world.


It's coming up on the two year anniversary of Hurricane Ike, and guess what Chris did today?  She threw stuff away.  That's right.  That's weird.  We waded through the stuff in the back yard and she actually agreed to throw some of it away.  And some is destined for the rummage sale at church.  And some made its way into the garage, here it is now up to me to find a place for it.   Can you say, "attic"?


The wedding went off with only some minor snafus.  It was scheduled for 3:00.  The bride arrived in the building around 3:10.  We finally started around 3:30.  It was a very weird group.  They had tables set for about 24 more people than actually showed up.  The parents of the couple forgot to bring the sand bottles up before we started.  They were doing the alternative to the unity candle where they each have a bottle containing a different color of sand.  The groom had white and the bride had purple.  Then they pour their sand into a larger bottle, mixing it in a unique way.  It's a very nice symbol, and easy to explain, when the bottles are there.  Fortunately, the bride's mom remembered, so I explained the symbolism while she ran into the back room to get them.  I thought it was kind of sad that the bride never smiled.  Well, she did one time, when they took a picture of her and her sister.  I guess she felt safe around her.  She's known her longer.

No baby yet for Christina.  In fact she went to a wedding shower for her little sister in Houston and plans to spend the night there.  Oh, well.  St' Luke's Hospital in right in the middle.  We could all meet there if we need to.


Hebrews 3:1 says, "Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess."


Father, watch over Christina and that little baby while they're on the road.  Amen.

Friday, April 23, 2010

April 23 – “Can I still do this?”


After an especially bad night last night pain-wise, it was really hard to get going this morning.  I was determined to get to the pastor's prayer meeting, though.  I haven't been able to go the last few times, and I think it's probably the most likely thing that God will use to get Galveston out from under a powerful demonic spirit of hopelessness.  There were three of us there.  We met at Mod's Coffee Shop downtown, the first time I had been there.   Really nice place.  I was fascinated by one of the neighboring shops called The Witchery.  Kel said they have cast spells on the block to bring more customers to their store.  What a great place to pray for Galveston.


Speaking of Kel, he told me Christina had been up since 3 a.m. with contractions.  He didn't know whether to be excited or not.  Apparently she did this for three weekends before Micah was born.  We're hoping she's on a roll.  Today or tomorrow would be a great time for this baby to make an appearance.  I have a rehearsal today at 6 for a 3 p.m. wedding tomorrow in Texas City.  Chris has to be in Bay City from Sunday afternoon through Wednesday, so she's rooting for sooner rather than later.  Her Mom has an appointment Monday morning with the cancer doc.  Her Dad has an appointment that afternoon for some tests on a carotid artery that is around fifty percent blocked.  Then Tuesday he has cataract surgery.  Wednesday he has to go back in for a recheck on the eye.  Thursday Jachin is scheduled to have his adenoids removed and tubes put in his ears.  My appointment with the rheumatologist is Friday.  That's a full week.


When I got home I was beat.  The tree trimmer guy was going to come by to give us the bill for trimming the huge pecan tree, though, so I had to stay "up" for him.  I went in the front yard and started pulling up weeds.  It was quite painful on the knees.  And the rest of the body.  As I sat there in the front yard I had a thought.  Why was I out here doing this when I knew it was going to hurt just to squat down?  What made me do something in spite of the fact that I knew good and well the impending consequences.  I tried to convince myself that it was all about getting the lawn to look nice for Chris.  Or maybe so the neighborhood would look a little further along in its comeback after Ike.  It was a grand gesture, surely.  About then is when I realized that if I was honest, the only reason I was digging in the dirt today was to prove to myself that I still could.  Interesting motivation, I guess.  But from what I understand, I have a lot more of that particular motivational technique to look forward to in my future.  But I do go back to the rheumatologist next week.  Maybe the next medication will help.


Hebrews 1:8-9 says, "But about the Son he says, 'Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.  9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.'"


Father, I'd sure like some of that oil of joy anointing.  Amen.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 22 – “Chain saw on a stick”


I received a request today for an update on the homeless biker dude who was sneaking naps in the abandoned house next door.  I think I saw him yesterday.  At least the bike looked familiar.  A guy walking his bicycle caught my eye through the front window, so I went outside to check it out.  That bike sure looked familiar.  He didn't stop.  In fact there has been no sign of the lone bike in the back yard since the police moved it to the front porch last time he was here.  It's kind of sad.  I'll miss him.


Our hired guns showed up this morning to trim the pecan tree.  This tree is huge.  It was huge when we got here fifteen years ago, and we have never done anything to it.  It towers over the house and provides great shade in the summer.  Some years it provides a fair amount of nuts for squirrels, too. 


They brought a three man team.  And it wasn't hard to tell who had the most seniority.  Was it the little guy who crawled up the ladder and stood in the tree and wrapped the rope around the limb so it wouldn't hit the house and held the chainsaw and cut the limb and caught the falling piece that hit him in the face and dropped it to the ground?  No.  Was it the slightly taller guy who walked around and around on our roof, pointing here and there and hollering instructions to the man in the air?  No.  I'm pretty well convinced that it was the guy who knocked on our door to tell us they were here, then sat in the truck -  when he wasn't talking with our neighbor.  Actually, to their credit, they all did help haul the cut limbs to the trailer. 


I decided that there were three key things about this crew that impressed me greatly.  First was the fact that their chain saw had to be one of the sharpest things I have ever seen.  All they had to do was touch the limb and the cutting began.  It was not so easy when we felled the magnolia tree.  Maybe we need to do some sharpening with my dremel before we start to cut it up and haul it off.


The second impressive thing was the way they held the chain saw.  With one hand.  In all sorts of contorted positions. 


Finally, I was struck jealous by the chain saw on a stick.  I have heard of them before, and I think I have even seen one at Home Depot.  But this was my first time to watch one in action.  It was a tiny thing literally stuck on the end of a big old long stick.  But it was sharper than the regular one.  He could back door the limbs when he needed to and they would melt like butter.


Chris texted Nathan to see if he wanted to come over and help, but I guess he was at work.  I did get a call from Micah, though.  He and Jachin are coming over so their Mom and Dad can go look at a car.


Hebrews 1:3 says, "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven."


Father, thank you for sustaining our pecan tree up to this point.  And for taking care of those guys hanging from it.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21 – “A tub of X-Men”


Struggling through a difficult chapter of Scripture in preparation for Sunday was how I spent most of my morning.  It was not that it was hard to interpret or understand.  It was the subject matter.  Rape.  Incest.  Murder.  Not the usual casual morning devotional reading.


Chris had to make me get up and move around again.  I had kind of a bad day pain-wise, so I really didn't want to do much of anything.  It was hard enough to concentrate while working on the sermon.  I have to concentrate in a totally different way when I move around.  Certain movements do hurt my back, and I never know which joints are going to bark at me.  I went on a walk with her around the neighborhood, though.  Today it was both knees, my right toes and my left elbow that wanted to be heard.


Chris and Mom had Wednesday Club this afternoon.  That's their group of ladies who get together and do book reports and the like.  This year they are doing reports on "Around the world without leaving Texas."  They pick a city in Texas that has the same name of someplace around the world and find out information about it.  Today the 94-year-old lady whose turn it was chose Italy.  But she understood that the report was supposed to be about Italy, Italy, not Italy, Texas.  Sounded like it turned out good, though.  Her parents were from Italy, and she had even been to Italy.  She ended up telling story after story about her family's adventures.  Chris enjoyed it.


While they were gone I went into the back yard to see if I could further dent the pile of Ike stuff.  We found out today that the people behind us are planning to put their house on the market.  When the real estate agent came into their backyard and saw ours, she said, "Oh, no.  This will never work."  They are pricing privacy fences now.  Chris started cleaning out flower beds after that.  So I thought I would make another junk attack.  I ended up emptying and cleaning two more tubs of toys.  It took me a long time, because I would find myself just standing there with something in each hand, staring at the pile.  One of the tubs had a collection of X-Men action figures.  There was also one of Jesse Owens, the track star.  They were all still in their original packages, but the packages had been through Ike.  They were warped and still damp and kind of nasty.  I cleaned those up and repackaged them.  I don't even know which son they belong to, but we'll put them in a plastic tub and put them in the attic.  Some day maybe their grandkids will get a kick out of seeing the antique toys. 


Job 19:25 says, "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth."


Father, I know you are alive, too.  I see evidence every day in Galveston.  Surf, seagulls, cranes, and pelicans.  Wow.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 20 – “Free Flush Handle”


I got to do a few real-live pastor things today.  First I went to pray with a guy who was having surgery.  Marcus is a young man who became a Christian was baptized through our youth camp ministry.  Since then he has gone with us virtually every summer as a counselor and van driver, and he is scheduled to go again this summer.  He loves the Lord and is great with the kids, especially the ones who are hard to draw out of their shell.  Marcus was playing basketball like he was still eighteen, and as a result he ruptured his Achilles tendon.  The surgery was this afternoon.  It was a miracle that he even got to the surgery.  Someone loaned him the $6,000 they wanted up front.  He still has to pay it back, so any help would be appreciated.  I met his girlfriend and enjoyed talking for awhile with his boss and co-worker.  The best part of the whole thing was seeing where they had him the pre-op room.  Of the six or seven options, Marcus got placed in the only corner in the entire room with a giraffe and an elephant painted on the walls.  It was quite cheery.  And I'm pretty sure the cartoon network was playing on the TV.  He turned it off before I could check for sure.


Did you know if you buy a cheeseburger at Sonic they will give you an order of tater tots?  I like tater tots.  I ate most of the cheeseburger, too.  And I really like cherry limeade slushes.  Right up there with Nestle's Crunch bars.  That was my meal when they finally opened up after Ike. 


From there I had to hurry to the juvenile justice center in Texas City.  One of our Seaside kids had a meeting before the judge.  All went well.  He and his parents did everything they were supposed to do, so the charges were dismissed.  He really got a second chance on this one.


The flush handle broke off one of the new toilets at the church.  After searching all over the place for a replacement, I found a phone number for the manufacturer.  They finally called back and said they would send a replacement out right away.  Didn't ask for payment or anything.  Does that still happen?


1 Chronicles 29:17 says, "I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity."


Father, help me be a man of integrity.  In everything.  Amen.


Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19 – “A Week’s Reprieve”


We were notified today of a week's reprieve.  It's not like we were banished to the outer world regions of Underland or anything.  We just found out that Chris' Dad's cataract surgery had to be postponed a week.  That means she doesn't have to go to Bay City at all until next Sunday.  His surgeon is in Europe and can't get home because all the flights have been grounded due to the volcano eruption in Iceland.  A whole week.


We took the new car in for its first oil change today.  It automatically notifies us when it is time.  Our mechanic was very impressed with the car.  He said it has the same engine as our Venture did, and that one lasted well over 100,000 miles.  I had to walk over to Kel's and hitch a ride home.  Cailyn was staying at the house and we didn't have a car seat.  Now I'm one up on Chris in the exercise department.  I'm also really sore in the knees.  And I dozed off a little bit when we went to see Alice in Wonderland.  That's one of the most frustrating things about this whole pain management experience. 


While I was walking to Kel's I noticed a lot of political signs for the upcoming elections in Galveston.  I also noticed that some of the names immediately called to mind something totally off the wall.  It started off when I saw a regular business sign for somebody named Phil NuNu.  I felt like I was already at home babysitting.  Then came Rusty Legg.  I thought of a friend of mine who is a double amputee and the trouble that would cause him with his prosthesis.  Isn't Brenda Lee a singer or something like that?  She's running for something.  Steve Greenberg sounded like a ecologically friendly small town.  Susan Fennewald made me think of one of the elves in Lord of the Rings.  I got a glimpse of what looked like "Got an itch."  I think it was Godinich.  And then there was Jim Rothgeb.  That one almost stumped me.  Maybe a fast-talking bank account (Roth gab)?  I don't know who I'll vote for yet, but I sure appreciate the choices.


Daniel 7:27 says, "Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him."


Father, let it happen quickly.  Draw our rulers toward yourself.  Amen.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

April 18 – “Make it enough”


This morning started out really difficult for me.  I knew I was teaching on the grief process, basically how David handled grief when his first son with  Bathsheba died.  I honestly have not been looking forward to this one at all.  In the sequence of David's life that we have been following, it actually should have come up several weeks ago.  Not long after Josh, the thirteen-year-old member of our church, died.  Right about then God started leading me to do several teachings from the New Testament.  I wasn't sure why then.  I think I know now.  I wasn't ready.  And it wasn't His time.  Today was. 


That didn't really make it much easier.  In fact, I suddenly realized before church started that I was a wreck.  I went into my office to get a lock wrench to hook onto the toilet handle in the nursery bathroom so they could flush it.  I couldn't get the tool kit to close properly.  I knocked over a whole tub of pens.  I knocked several trays onto the floor.  I kept forgetting to do little insignificant things I always do to prepare for worship every week, and it frustrated me.  I was worried about Mom being at church and being in pain.  I was even worried that we wouldn't have enough food for dinner on the grounds, and that never bothers me.  I got the wrench on the toilet, and it flushed itself from the weight.  Great.  I readjusted it so it would require some human assistance. 


I finally realized what was happening when I was setting up the video clip and visual verse for the day.  Jeremiah 29:11.  Easy to choose what to put at the bottom of the blog.  Even if it is a repeat.  I stopped what I was doing and just sat back for a minute or two.  I prayed.  I asked God to forgive my frustrations and fill me with his Spirit.  I took a few deep breaths.  And I continued on.  And it was better.


We really didn't have that much food.  I'm sure several people decided not to stay.  I talked one guy into sticking around to try some of Chris' bean soup.  When it came time to pray I kept it simple.  I asked God to "please make it enough."  We had leftovers.  Not many leftovers, but some.  Even on the only dessert.


While we were eating one of our newest members said to me that she believed the way we do things at Seaside – "the worship style, the way you do the stories, just everything" – was absolutely perfect for this place and this time.  If she only knew how important that encouragement was to me at this particular point in time.  God knew.


Jeremiah 29:11 says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"


Father, thank you once again for knowing just what I needed just when I needed it.  Please keep using Seaside to make a difference in people's lives.